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The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind Paperback – October 19, 1995
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind does not quite drift into the territory of criticizing BEING an evangelical, only that somewhere along the way, we have let ourselves be co-opted by thinking patterns that stifle good thought processes. Noll deftly traces some of the history and development of the evangelical mind thorough the past few hundred years.
I would say that this book changed my life. It helped me to realize much of what bothers me about evangelicalism. It ALMOST made me want to give it up. And some may say that this is the danger of the book. However, I think that Noll does not want us to go that far; he honestly described the problems and begins to offer a solution to the way that we have forgotten how to love God with our minds.
I commend this to all who want to think honestly about their faith and not be afraid to be shaken.
Evangelicals are all too often typecast as hillbillies who neither read nor think. Like most stereotypes, there is a grain of truth to the characterization - where there is smoke there is usually fire. In the "Scandal of the Evangelical Mind," Noll issues a wake-up call for a renewed commitment to the life of the mind on the part of Evangelicals. Noll begins by persuasively demonstrating the existence of an intellectual deficit among Evangelicals. In contrast to the Catholic-leaning journals like First Things or the New Oxford review, there is no real Evangelical journal of public thought. There are few scholarly journals focusing on Evangelical perspectives. Evangelical colleges emphasize teaching at the expense of scholarly research, despite decades of proof that the good teaching and good scholarship goes hand in hand.
Noll then traces the historical roots of this scandal, showing that there was a time when Evangelicals dominated top institutions of learning. What caused the decline? In what must surely be the most controversial portion of the book, Noll lays the blame on an anti-intellectual strain of populist fundamentalism. As someone who grew up with many working class fundamentalist relatives, I am more sympathetic towards that world view than is Noll.Read more ›
So what's the problem, Mark Noll asks? Doesn't Christ command us to love Him with all our mind, and how have evangelicals in this country failed in this respect? That's the aim of Noll in this book to show the historical reasons for that failure but also to show that there is hope and signs that some evangelicals are back on the right track. I think his main point is that research is key to developing the mind, that Christians should venture to explore all "topics under the sun" as Solomon says, and that we can do so in a way that glorifies God without compromising basic Christian beliefs.
This author was recommended to me and others from the evangelical church I attend. I loved this book; it's one of the more substantive Jesus books that are out there. It's well-researched and thought provoking. Evangelicalism is new to me, although maybe I was one before I knew what the word meant! In the first chapter, evangelicalism is described as having "the key ingredients of: conversionism/new birth, biblicism/the bible as ultimate religious authority, activism/sharing your faith, crucicentrism/significance of Christ's saving work on the cross." Fundamentalism is not necessarily evangelicalism.
Here are some excerpts I loved:
"In each of these instances (pro-life/abortion, creationism/creation science/evolution debates), the point at issue for a historian of the intellectual life is not whether the new ideas were right or wrong.Read more ›
Here's the real scandal: The people who need to read this book are not likely to buy it. And if they do, they're not likely to understand it.
The first and last chapters (1 and 9) are the easiest to read and understand, so if you get bogged down in the middle, just fast forward to the end. You'll miss some excellent points, but it's almost too much work to find them.
My background is biblical studies. Reading the book from that viewpoint, it was clear that Noll is not at home with a biblical analysis of evangelicalism. Yet, when he reflects on biblical topics (e.g., dispensationalism, Genesis, eschatology, pentecostalism, sanctification), his instincts are remarkably on target.
But these comments are too negative for a book that emancipated my thinking on several levels. I thank Noll for helping me understand why I'm so frustrated with evangelicals. But, as he concludes, "the question must remain whether evangelicalism as it has taken shape in North America contributes anything intrinsic to the life of the mind." (p. 239)
The Christian world needs more Mark Nolls. But it really needs a Mark Noll who can communicate effectively to mainstream evangelicals.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A fantastic, well-written guide to the intellectual problems plaguing evangelical institutions, particularly evangelical higher education.Published 1 month ago by S Homer-Drummond
The book started out good by emphasizing the need for evangelicals to try to influence the world through the intellect. Read morePublished 11 months ago by MatthewCserhati
A great book by Mark Noll. I encourage him to come out with an updated edition with updates particularly on the chapters on how evangelicals have treated politics between 1994 and... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Thomas R. Wittick
I was gripped by this book and did not want to stop reading it until I was done. I read a lot of nonfiction, but seldom do finish them, even when I'm fascinated. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Mary M
"The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind" has become a landmark publication in Christian circles. In it, the distinguished historian Mark A. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Canuck Monk
There are "evangelicals" ... and then, there are "evangelicals." Like most cognitive approaches about matters that are really important, the evangelical mindset... Read morePublished 22 months ago by learner
We are no longer taught to be clear thinkers. Our children are not taught how to think. This book is a fabulous example of how to think. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Robert L. Peacock